Shovel Knight Showdown is the newly released Shovel Knight title from Yacht Club Games, except rather than just being a platformer, it’s a Super Smash Bros.-like party fighting game featuring all your favorite Shovel Knight characters.
In addition to the expected multiplayer mode (local only), there’s also a single-player campaign mode. The allies that Specter Knight had made in the Tower of Fate decided to try to help him by modifying the magic mirror he had used to recruit members for the Order of No Quarter, this time planning to use it to capture the Enchantress. Unfortunately, their job was rushed and incomplete, causing something to go horribly wrong.
There are 16 different characters to choose from in Shovel Knight Showdown, and having only played some of the original game myself, I decided to start with the titular gardening tool-wielding character himself, only to realize he felt kind of limited in his movements. I was still able to get to close to the end of his campaign, but since you’re taking on the entire Order of No Quarter, there seems to be a difficulty spike. Whenever I feel like I’m going to win, I end up losing even when I’ve survived against a handful of all the other participating characters.
I decided to try the campaign with another character, so this time I chose Specter Knight. Even though there were some other modes I was unfamiliar with, I felt more comfortable playing as Specter Knight and his angular jumps and attacks helped me finish his story campaign and unlock two characters and some other unlockables. There are also in-game achievements for unlocking new things or completing challenges, which is a great addition for those playing on Nintendo Switch since there’s no achievement or trophy system for the platform.
The campaign mode is different for each character, and there is a mix of different rules as well. In Specter Knight’s campaign, instead of dealing with a ton of different characters at once, I had to take on 20 weaker copies of Shovel Knight at the same time as collecting gems, while in Phantom Striker’s campaign I had to deal with three copies of Baz with one being giant and having more health. Although Fight of Fate was the one I like the least, since it involves constantly switching positions with other characters, unfairly leading you to your demise half the time, I think switching the conditions up each battle is a great way to keep players on their toes, and is more fun than just fighting and collecting gems over and over again on different stages.
Although I’m enjoying Shovel Knight Showdown a lot more than I expected even though I’m not a big fan of the series, I feel like I’d probably have a greater appreciation for it if I had played through the other games in Treasure Trove. That being said, however, I do think Shovel Knight Showdown could be a fun time even when playing with friends not familiar with the series, and it could even intrigue them into learning more about it. The practice mode also helps a great deal when trying to become familiar with all the different attacks the characters have.
Code provided by the publisher.